It is Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD) and well into autumn, the garden overall remains fairly green. Suddenly this week a few maples around town became brilliantly red. Today is the first time this season the morning seemed really cold when I went out to explore the garden. There was a chilly wind and the garden was still in shade.
Several people commented on the use of Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) in my latest Monday vase. There are many clumps in my garden. This one seems newly regenerated and shows off its silvery, gray-green hue and thick, richly textured leaves.
Lavender is another silvery-leaved plant I find useful in flower arrangements and it is always lovely in the garden as well.
Standing in early morning shadows, the Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) still holds all of its leaves, but most of the berries are gone. This dogwood from the Arbor Day Foundation has always seemed odd to me. Unlike the trees at my former garden, this one is rather short and its leaves seem smaller and more elongated than normal. Maybe it is my imagination.
Next to the dogwood the American beautyberry is still covered with purple berries, although upon close inspection it is clear the birds have been feasting on them.
One flower I remember being fascinated with as a child is Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily), which grew in a mossy area of my grandparents’s front yard near a large blue spruce tree. After longing for some for many years, finally this fall I planted six bulbs courtesy of some special friends who gave me a nice gift card from White Flower Farm.
The foliage appeared almost immediately. Unfortunately this means I cannot expect to see the spidery red flowers this year as the foliage emerges only after the flowers have bloomed. The leaves should overwinter, then disappear in early spring. Next fall seems like a long time away.
Recently I toured Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Level Botanic Garden with a group from my garden club. It was my first visit and I should have brought along a better camera. One plant I was interested to see growing was Ruscus (Butcher’s Broom). Our garden guide said Italy grows tons of this for the florist industry to use as foliage in arrangements.
Sure enough, in a floral design workshop yesterday, we began our project using ruscus foliage to define the line of the design. I cannot be sure ours was true ruscus, or Poet’s laurel, which is apparently often sold as Italian ruscus.
Where I live in North Carolina most people recognize two invasive plants, Kudzu and Ivy, so it was surprising to see vines of Hedera (Ivy), roaming freely up a large tree at Plant Delights.
Our guide explained Hedera (Ivy) is a vine in its juvenile form, but after many years and 30-40 feet later it matures into an adult. The gardeners at Plant Delights allow the ivy vine to run up this one tree so they eventually can have seeds from the adult form.
In its adult stage Hedera changes its form from vine to shrub. Its leaf form changes as well and it apparently settles down and becomes well-behaved.
Below, our garden guide is reaching toward the shrub form.
Here are a few more scenes of foliage in the shaded garden at this nursery.
One last interesting plant we saw during this garden visit looked at first like eucalyptus. In fact it is Baptisia arachnifera, a plant native not to my state of North Carolina but rather to another southern state, coastal Georgia. Because of rules surrounding its classification as a federally endangered plant, the nursery can sell it but cannot ship it outside of North Carolina.
Thanks to Christina for hosting GBFD on the 22nd of each month. Visit her at Garden of the Hesperides to discover what foliage displays she and other garden bloggers are featuring today.